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Discussion in 'Other Guitars, other instruments' started by Cheap Trills, Mar 16, 2020.
It's a stupid design, but even though I am as clumsy as anyone , I have never broken one
I get 4-5 of them a year into the shop (town of about 10,000) to fix. Most of the stories involve either toddlers or puppies...
What is the most common method to fix them?
First, thank you all for sharing the stories. It's very interesting to hear the different opinions on this.
Two quick take aways -- a lot of posts about breaks while in the case. I have the original case from Gibson -- anyone do anything specific or have ideas on how to better protect it in the case?
I am curious for some additional info on some of these breaks in the cases -- what gauge strings were on the guitar? It makes sense that added tension would increase the effect some impact.
some things just make no sense... higher price, and one drop you gotta glue it?
sell the damn thing and get a high end tele.
How do we know which way your ASAT fell? Yes, Gibsons are prone to break at the bottom of the headstock. So if you want a guitar you can bang around, don't buy a Gibson. Violins are pretty breakable, too. I'd say that about 2/3 of the headstock breaks I have heard about involved a large degree of owner negligence. (Of course accidents happen.)
The ASAT fell off a 3.5ft bed on it's back onto a hardwood floor. The 339 didn't fall. I wasn't looking for info on the neck construction or questioning whether or not I should sell the 339. I don't think anyone on this forum lacks an understanding of why the construction is prone to failure. I just wanted to hear some real world stories to get a sense how much it can withstand and the types of things that have caused breaks.
The majority of acoustic headstock breaks I’ve seen happened when the case fell hard. This is why I prefer heavy duty, high end gig bags for everything. They’re much better protection for drops and such.
Take a raw egg- put it in a velvet lined wood box with a half inch or so of padding, and drop it off the roof. That egg is toast. Now wrap it up nice and tight in a couple inches of nice medium density foam. Give it the same drop. It’s gonna be fine.
The weight and rigidity added by a hard shell case, coupled with less padding, is a recipe for breaks if it goes down hard. It just doesn’t have good shock absorption properties. The rare exception being a really high end flight case like a Brady or Anvil. But who wants to haul one of those around every day?
I do all my transporting for local gigs in high end gig bags. I mean the type that cost in the same range as a good hard shell. Not the $59 economy bag the 8th grader drags to guitar lessons. They’re lighter, they hold more stuff, they transport easier cause they have backpack straps leaving both your hands free to carry other stuff, and for 99% of accidents, drops, and knock overs, they’re better protection.
The only time I use hard cases is when I’m touring and my gear is going into a trailer or separate gear compartment. I use them there for their superior crush resistance. But that’s the only time I find them the least bit advantageous.
It's not just Gibson. The angled back head is an inherently fragile headstock design, and it also just happens to often be made from a more break-prone wood, compared to a Fender (mahogany, as opposed to hard maple). The angle makes it more likely that just the headstock gets hit in a fall, and hit at an angle...as opposed to the whole length of the neck taking the impact, and taking it flatly, like when a Fender falls.
In an ideal world, there's a well placed volute. But even when Gibson did use volutes, they placed them in a near useless spot on the back of the neck, not even reinforcing the most break prone area of the neck.
FWIW, I have seen Fender style headstocks break too. It just takes a certain kind of hit, and/or a harder hit, to make it happen.
At any rate, a broken headstock is a common problem on a Gibson style guitar, but it can usually be fixed up just fine. It's the quality of the repair that matters...and often it's a crappy repair job that gets done. I'd rather buy a guitar with an unfixed broken head than one with a crappy repair. Easier to fix right. Often a poorly repaired head isn't even worth undoing in order to fix it right.
The head of my '01 Junior broke off when it was a few years old. It fell forward off a stand. Luckily the break was more out on the headstock than right under the nut (harder to repair well when it breaks under the nut). I fixed it myself at home, with Titebond II, and didn't bother with a finish repair. No problems over 15 years later. It's still one of the finest sounding guitars I've ever played. I, of course, trust my own repair work, because I know exactly what was done. But I am very critical and leery of the work of others, and would inspect closely – preferably in person – before buying a guitar with a fixed head. IME, at least half the time, the repair work is sub-standard.
was it in the original Gibson case? was there climate changes between when you opened it? what gauge strings?
Thanks! the 339 didn't fall off, thankfully. If you asked me which one I'd save first if the house was burning down, it would be the ASAT. But it's also the one I'd rather have fall off the bed since it's more likely to survive.
Two of my Gibsons that I purchased used have broken headstock repairs. One is a '71 335 and the other is a '97 LP Special DC TV yellow. Both have been stable and consistently used for years. Great guitars and I probably wouldn't have been able to afford them at the time except for the issue. Both were expertly repaired.
That being said, I would absolutely cry if my '52 to '58 conversion ever broke. Never babied it but always worried in the back of my mind. But it's got tons of miles on it and it's survived so far.
I’ve had my Les Paul Studio since i bought it new at GC Houston in ‘95. The headstock is not broken and it finished high school with me, survived the college years, several moves, 5 kids, etc. It’s never protected by more than the factory gig bag, sitting on a stand, or hanging on the wall.
I don’t think I would let my 4 year old lay it on its back and stand on the neck but it’s proven quite durable.
was it in the original Gibson case? Yes.
was there climate changes between when you opened it? No, it had even in SF for a number of years. It was purchased in the California High Desert, however.
what gauge strings? EB Regular slinkys.
Mine fell over while on stage. I was playing my Squier strat and had the LP Studio on a stand. Think it was around a 91 or 90 model. Broke it in 98. Sat in a case for about 7 years before I glued it back (not poorly, but I didn't sand and repaint the glue job). Plays just fine now and stays in tune fine. Also took off the pick guard and there has been some yellowing.
IMO it's pointless to take other guitars falls as meaning anything at all about your guitar and your chances of breaking it.
I used to build boats and often had to bend lumber for planking, ribs and strips or veneers.
The same stress will bend one piece of wood but break another piece.
Even if you did a worldwide poll of only players whose Gibson's tipped over onto the headstock over a 40 year span, and found that 58% broke, that isn't the likelihood yours will break if you tip it over on the headstock.
It is 100% fact that they break more easily than Fender headstocks.
Don't tip it over and don't lean it against stuff or leave it on the bed plugged in while chasing toddlers around the house!
It will indeed break!
Notice my 49 yo LP broke when dropped but not in the usual place.
Headstock never broke and this had a long rough life.
You might say the same about jeeps and work trucks but note that nobody ever flipped them over, which seems to help.
My friendly pro luthiers see avg one a week, Gibby, Epi or copy.
They have hardwood splints, along with an angle clamp fixture. They clamp the headstock and neck which holds both parts rigid regardless of where the break is. The clamp adjusts for profile with a foam padded C-jig.
Then they cut two slots in the side for the splints that look like nail files, so it goes into the side of the headstock and neck down the the first fret. Then inject Cryo glue from the inside through a syringe until it comes out all round.
Dries, sanded and refinished. Joint is solid and they've never had one back. They have it down to a fine art, couple hours plus finishing. It's more likely to break either side.
I was working as a guitar tech in a Brooklyn guitar shop that bought a very decent LP std with a headstock repair and put it out at $400.
Nicer than the average LP.
I tried to convince them to price it higher but they just weren’t confident in a repaired headstock. Sold pretty quick, I thought it was a steal.